USU Extension Presents Friend of Extension Award to Department of Health and Human Services

By Shelby Ruud | April 30, 2024


Friend of Extension

Utah State University Extension presented its “Friend of Extension” award to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at Extension’s annual conference in March. The DHHS has partnered with USU Extension on several initiatives to help improve the lives of Utah citizens.

Together, the DHHS and USU Extension have provided food and nutrition education to those in need, supported youth with mental health and wellness programming, offered relationship and parenting education programs, created vape-prevention programming and opioid-reduction measures, and others. 

“Like USU Extension, the Department of Health and Human Services has a statewide vision and mission,” said Tracy Gruber, DHHS executive director. “We truly consider USU Extension to be friends of DHHS. They are a key partner in working toward our DHHS goal of ensuring that all Utahns are healthy and safe, leading to improving the lives of individuals, families and communities.”

The Friend of Extension award is presented annually to honor individuals, businesses, or organizations outside of Extension for their outstanding support and personal involvement in furthering Extension efforts.

Brian Higginbotham, USU Extension associate vice president, said the common goals shared between USU Extension and the DHHS allow these organizations to strategically provide individualized services to countless Utahns. 

“Our long-standing partnership leverages the statewide network of USU Extension and programming resources from DHHS to increase accessibility and impact,” Higgenbotham said. “The USU-DHHS partnership is making a huge difference throughout the state.”

Notably, the DHHS and USU Extension have worked to reduce hunger statewide. The DHHS helps USU Extension faculty find growers who can accept SNAP and nutrition incentives. They also help distribute USU Extension’s SNAP-Ed Create Better Health programming.

Another noteworthy collaboration centers on USU Extension's Healthy Relationships Utah initiative, which helps provide parenting and relationship education virtually and in person statewide. The DHHS supports and helps distribute the programs. 

“DHHS is proud of our ongoing collaboration and is looking forward to new ways we can work together,” Gruber said. “During a recent meeting, we discussed how we can join hands-on suicide prevention efforts in rural Utah. This is truly an amazing partnership.” 

The USU Extension Friend of Extension Award was given to the Department of Health and Human Services at Extension’s annual conference in March.

Back row – Joe Dougherty, DHHS communications director; Brian Higginbotham, USU Extension associate vice president; Ken White, USU Extension vice president. Front row: Tracy Gruber, DHHS executive director; Heidi LeBlanc, USU Extension home and community director.